Bent Schematic’s 2016 Fringe show The Gremlins is based on a very promising idea. Patrons queue up in the departure lounge waiting to check in for a flight on the Gremlin’s budget (read ‘dangerous and probably fatal’) airline.
In line, whilst waiting to board, you may be subjected to bag (and body) searches, or find yourself covered in ‘Fragile’ stickers, whilst you watch the baggage handlers trash travellers’ suitcases. Greasy nuts and bolts are handed out as boarding passes. This zany approach does successfully build up positive expectations for the show to follow.
Building on this anticipation, once inside the ‘plane’, you are confronted by an impressively rickety set that perfectly suggests the unreliability of the aircraft in which you are about to take an hour’s joyflight.
Unfortunately, the reality does not match the anticipation. The show simply drags in places as the novelty of the anarchic yelling and screaming in Gremlinian gobbledegook quickly wears off. The audience reaction was never more than lukewarm at any time.
Perhaps this tepid reaction was due to the fact that the ‘stunts’ are so lame – intentionally, I guess – bad juggling, catching potatoes on forks, and an incomprehensibly bad sequence with a couple of carpenter’s tape measures that were supposed to be the show’s highpoints – which all failed to spark any enthusiasm from either of the half-full first class or economy passenger sections.
There is a direct reference to Kafka in the show, so apparently alienation was an underlying theme – so the fact that the show never gets off the ground literally, or in terms of connecting with its audience, could perversely suggest that the actors actually achieved the task of having their patrons arrive at their intended destination.
Welcome to the land of the disoriented and confused.
The Gremlins is playing at Airlinius in The Garden Of Earthly Delights for the duration of Fringe Festival and you can grab your tickets through Fringetix.
Reviewed by Ken Grady